Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cutting to the Chase: 2010 NHK Airdates/Times and the Men/Ladies Medal Predictions

Very interesting little survey posed by USFS on their Facebook page today when they posed the question “How will you be watching coverage of the NHK Trophy?” I haven’t counted or tallied the responses yet, but I must say it was a pretty smart way for them to spot-check their core audience.

Speaking of which, here’s the Ice Network (and presumably Universal Online?) live streaming schedule:
(All times Eastern)

Friday, Oct. 22

2:00 a.m. : Short Dance
4:05 a.m. : Pairs Short Program
6:05 a.m.: Ladies Short Program
11:20 p.m.: Men's Short Program

Saturday, Oct. 23

1:30 a.m.: Free Dance
3:35 a.m. : Pairs Free Skate
5:30 a.m. : Ladies Free Skate
11:00 p.m. : Men's Free Skate

As for the Universal Sports schedule (the cable channel, not the online stream), it looks like this:

Friday, Oct 22
6:00-7:30 p.m.: Pairs Short Program and Short Dance
10:30-11:30 p.m. : Ladies Short Program

Saturday, Oct. 23
3:00-4:00 p.m. : Pairs Free Skate
5:00-7:00 p.m. : Men’s Short Program and Free Dance

Sunday, Oct. 24
6:00-7:00 p.m.: Men’s Free Skate

And though I believe the Ladies Free Skate was originally slated to air on Universal too, THAT is what will be featured on NBC’s coverage next Sunday, 10/31, from 4-6PM. Remember what I said earlier in the month about You Tube being policed more than ever this season? Can’t wait to see how quickly the ladies FS clips go up… and come back down…

Speaking of the LADIES—here come some predictions:

Gold: Mao Asada (JPN)
Silver: Ashley Wagner (USA)
Bronze: Rachael Flatt (USA)

While I’m aware that Asada had a dismal outing just a few weeks ago at the Japan Open… and allow that she might be competing here at something below her best work… I still predict Asada for the win, if only because I just don’t think she’s going to have a lot of competition. I also allow that I might be overly optimistic in predicting 2 U.S. ladies as the ones coming closest to Asada’s point total (and even putting Wagner over Flatt in the process). But if I can’t go with plain old haunches at the start of a new season, when CAN I go with them?

Breakout Star Watch?: Another reigning Junior World Champion will be in attendance in this discipline, and her name is Kanako Murakami (Japan). She was also 5th at Japanese Nationals earlier this year (in what we all know is an ocean-deep field)… so if she ends up claiming one of those medals I won’t be very surprised!

Others that will be interesting to see include Italy’s Carolina Kostner (can she get her mojo back? Such as it was, I mean?)… Sweden’s Viktoria Helgesson (was her top-10 finish at Worlds a fluke?)… and the U.S.’s Caroline Zhang (will she be glad she’s still in the sport after this week?).

The Replacements:
There was one TBA going into this that was originally slotted for Japan, but Jenna McCorkell (Great Britain) has been given the assignment instead.

For MEN:

Gold: Jeremy Abbott (USA)
Silver: Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
Bronze: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN

OK—hear me out. Abbott tends to compete better in the first half of the season; Takahashi tends to do the opposite. These aren’t absolutes; I haven’t forgotten how Abbott blew his FS at his first Grand Prix event last year. But I saw Takahashi’s performance at the Japan Open a few weeks back, and much as I love his work, he’s got a ways to go till returning to World Champion form. It’ll be interesting if this boils down to THE QUAD, though, as I suspect both guys plan to do one.

The bronze was a very tough choice. I’d have given it to Denis Ten (KAZ) if he hadn’t become so wildly inconsistent over the past year. And I’d have given it to Florent Amodio (FRA) if he hadn’t had his own difficulties at French Masters recently. Is the pre-season a barometer of the GP season? We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ve settled on 15 year-old Hanyu, a Junior World Champ from last season making his senior GP debut here. (Kind of a “Why not??” thing.)

Breakout Star Watch?:
Obviously that would be Hanyu if he indeed pulled off a podium finish…but his teammate, 19 year-old Takahito Mura, might be a breakout too. Worth noting, though… Hanyu had a strong FS and weak SP at Japanese Nationals this past season… and Mura had the opposite. (Hanyu ended up 6th; Mura wound up 10th.)

My own vote for a “breakout” performance would be Sweden’s Adrian Schultheiss; I can’t wait to see what he’s done this season (music is Romeo & Juliet) Something tells me it won’t be your Other Competitor’s R&J… even when they’ve used the modern-day version favored over the past decade.

The Replacements:
Shawn Sawyer (CAN)—he of the impossible spirals and spin positions—is the replacement for Artem Borodulin (RUS).

I’d better post this already—competition starts in just a few hours! A nostalgic
Clip of the Day awaits; it is Midori Ito’s outstanding free skate from the 1989 edition of NHK Trophy. Stay tuned for updates and impressions starting Saturday!

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